Wikibooks:Reading room/Proposals

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Welcome to the Proposals reading room. On this page, Wikibookians are free to talk about suggestions for improving Wikibooks.

Now under construction: Wikibooks Stacks[edit]

As part of the infrastructure overhaul I've been doing for, at this writing, just over 23 months, and following from the previous discussion here in the ongoing series of threads (link), I'm now developing a replacement for the current subject hierarchy, in the form of a book called Wikibooks Stacks.

I'm not currently asking for help with this, tbh. Somewhat embarrassingly, given the collaborative nature of wikis, just atm I really need to do this carefully, step by step, myself, because there's still new design work involved at each step. But I do want to let everyone know what I'm doing, and perhaps folks here will offer advice (or point out that I'm making a huge mistake somewhere!).

When I'm all done, all our 3000-or-so books will be filed in both the "old" subject hierarchy and the "new" stacks, and I'll be able to do the equivalent of flipping one of those big high-voltage switches and suddenly the categories visible on each book main page will be shelves instead of subjects, and then I can start the process of carefully mothballing the old subject pages, one by one. Then it'll be time to start in earnest on the final(?) stage of this multi-year overhaul of our infrastructure, the introduction of topical categories that list pages as well as books, which will enable us to provide much better targets for incoming links from sister projects, including from Wikipedia.

Grouping all of this machinery in a book is more convenient, organizationally, than the Subject: namespace, as it happens. The new pages, equivalent to subjects, have name prefix Shelf: or, at the top level, Department:, which are not recognized by the wiki platform as namespace prefixes, so these pages are all technically in mainspace, as is the book. Our infrastructure templates such as {{BookCat}} and {{BOOKNAME}} know to associate these name prefixes with book Wikibooks Stacks, which is convenient because most of the pages involved don't have to have the name of the book built into them at all, they can just use markup {{BOOKNAME|Shelf:}} (which expands to Wikibooks Stacks). Shelves correspond to subjects that use {{subject page}}, departments to subjects that use {{root subject}}.

There are shelf categories, each with an associated allbooks category, just as there are subject categories with associated allbooks categories. When I set up the machinery of the subject hierarchy, I arranged that when any of the pages involved detected a problem, it would flag it out, and provide buttons to help a human operator implement likely actions to fix it. This time around, I've made some improvements to this semi-automation while I was about it.

I also very much want to arrange for dialog-based assistants to replace the older-style editing buttons (with the older-style buttons reappearing if the dialog tools are not detected — thus, graceful degradation when things aren't working right). This would be very cutting-edge use of the dialog tools, and I very much want to learn as much as I can from the experience, about how to make effective use of the dialog tools. Which is actually part of what's holding me up just atm: I could be marching forward with setting up shelves, but then I'd be missing out on this major opportunity to gain experience with dialog. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 19:51, 3 June 2018 (UTC)

Progress report: All our books have been shelved; they're also all listed in subjects. The shelf categories are hidden, the subject categories are visible; but I'm now in a position to switch that, so the shelf categories are visible and the subject categories hidden. Then I can start shutting down the subjects, which also has to be done manually. Strangely, I've got a discrepancy between the number of shelves and the number of subjects, whose cause should eventually come out during the manual shutdown. I'm not sure what to do about possible incoming links to subject pages that are now going to be either nonexistant or redirects. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 02:26, 29 September 2018 (UTC)
Cheers for all the work you have made already. I noticed two things which I'm not sure whether they are glitches or not: 1) Departments do not list any featured books. 2) Under Wikibooks Stacks/Departments the Wikijunior department correctly lists the Wikijunior shelf, but the Help department does not list the Help shelf. -- Vito F. (discuss) 23:46, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
On the second point, actually the link provided is to the help shelf, rather than to the help department. I'm unsure whether that should be treated differently, or if instead the wikijunior department should be treated differently. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 04:03, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
I think I've got the department featured books problem fixed. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 06:43, 12 October 2018 (UTC)
I've improved both of those displays on the departments page. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 12:44, 13 October 2018 (UTC)
Update: My progress on this is currently mired in the various pages associated with quality as assigned by various "WikiProjects". That part of our infrastructure was imported by Adrignola and adapted for Wikibooks —mainly by adding support for Subject pages— back in 2010; it isn't heavily used, but wants updating to support the rearrangement; except that frankly I find its internal design largely indecipherable. How Adrignola figured it out to make changes then, I find hard to imagine, and it's worse now with existing use of the Subject-based version to accommodate. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 13:28, 22 January 2019 (UTC)

Conversion of Books into Other eBook Formats[edit]

While books on Wikibooks are, in many cases, supplied in both webpage and PDF formats, these formats are not necessarily portable to all use-cases. In particular, PDFs do not natively support word-wrapping, which makes them difficult to read on small devices or with bad eyesight. I propose that, in addition to offering in-browser and PDF documents, Wikibooks should offer either (or both) ePub format books and/or easily downloadable archives of the webpages that collectively make up individual books. These formats are simple, widely supported, and allow for both easy distribution and increased accessibility while offline. Thank you for your consideration. -- (discuss) 15:49, 18 October 2018 (UTC)

Actually it has already been implemented in 2012: Special:Book. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 21:10, 18 October 2018 (UTC)